The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, May 16, 2008

What happened to the Minutemen?

To the Editor:

Regarding the Mosquito editorial on April, 4, “Where have all the Minutemen gone.” Here is what I have seen since the ’60s.

When the Minutemen first started in the early 1960s, I joined as a drummer. We made our own uniforms, made our own drums, carpooled to events, ate sandwiches with our families, and at that time we were still a little unique so it was always fun. Kennedy Inaugural, World’s Fair, it was wonderful.

When the time came for the Bicentennial in 1975, most of the New England towns had established a “Minutemen Company” so there were many companies available for events. Most of these had elected to go more “authentic” so they were still pretty rag-tag looking and there was still not much music, so any music stood out and sounded okay.

In the early ’70s, I was in Maine and became the drummer for the 1st York Militia Co. We made our own uniforms, found a drum, carpooled, sandwiches, etc.This group was wonderful. We could put 35-40 guys on the street; we put on many musters that are still remembered by some of the old guys today.

After the Bicentennial ended, the militia groups slowly lost enthusiasm and disappeared over the ’80s and certainly the ’90s. As a matter of fact, in 2002 we held a meeting in York to reactivate the 1st York Militia Co. There was good attendance, lots of enthusiasm, and I really thought we were on our way. We even knew how to do it! This time we had music, which had always been missing in the past.

Unfortunately I must admit that although the music (me, my son, my daughter, a friend and his son) turned out to be great, we couldn’t get enough musket men to carry a flag or fire a musket. We tried to recruit women, kids, from local, from far away – nothing worked.

There are groups still around, but not many “ militia.” The groups now tend to be colonial army and willing to spend $ 1000 or so for custom-made full dress uniforms. They travel, stay and eat well. The laws now treat a musket like a bazooka so there are inspections, certifications, and insurance required. If you want to be part of a battle reenactment, you show up a week before to have your buttons and buckles inspected to be sure you are “authentic.”

The upshot is that it is not nearly as much fun as it used to be. Things are too regimented, too structured, too safe, too serious, and there is just too much competition for people’s time. The fife and drum corps compete and march, they have junior corps to bring kids up through the system, and they still seem able to survive. The New England militia units arose when there was a need and then dispersed when there was no more need, which is actually how the original war went. The war was fought and won primarily by regular army units, far from New England where it started.

Joe Diment

Sgt. Drum Major

1st York Militia Co.

Ed. note: Diment grew up on South Street, the son of Mary Diment, who was Carlisle’s Honored Citizen in 1985. Diment Park is named in her honor.

Make a memorial that everyone can share

To the Editor:

Recently, a group of Carlisle citizens presented a proposal at Town Meeting to replace the existing war memorial on the Town Common with a new memorial and a garden. I think this is a unique opportunity for Carlisle to create a new kind of memorial that both commemorates those who serve in the military and reminds us all of the full tragedy of war. Three war memorials that stand out for me as examples of this are the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, the Holocaust Memorial in Boston and Käthe Kollwitz’s Mother with Dead Son (Pietà) in Berlin. Each of them quietly and deeply reminds us of war’s many casualties and individual acts of compassion and selflessness.

We all have different experiences of war. Some as soldiers, some as family of soldiers, some as friends and some, like me, as civilians in a war zone. As a very young child, during the Suez Canal crises, I was evacuated with my mother and two sisters and the other women and children from Egypt under Allied air bombing. I don’t think anyone disagrees that war is always a human and environmental tragedy. There are many dead and many wounded, physically and emotionally, on both sides of a conflict. There is always the destruction of homes, buildings, history, culture, land, water, plants and animals.

Whether you believe a specific war is justified or not does not alter the reality that war is, by its very nature, a devastating human event. I would like to see Carlisle create a memorial that transcends our collective and individual beliefs to embrace the full significance of war for all of us. To me that would be a war memorial that everyone can share and be healed by.

Ann Chase Ballantine

Fiske Street

Learn about Low Carbon Living

To the Editor:

On May 29, Carlisle Climate Action and the First Religious Society’s Environmental Action Committee will present a town-wide information session from 7 - 8:30 p.m. in Union Hall about Low Carbon Living (LoCaL), a friendly way to reduce the cost of home energy and the impact of global warming.

The Massachusetts Climate Action Network ( has modeled LoCaL on a proven, successful program developed by the nationally known Empowerment Institute. LoCaL programs are already underway in Concord, Bedford, Lexington, Newton, Boston, and many other communities throughout the state.

Here’s how it works: small teams of households will measure their carbon footprints before starting the program. Participants will then improve their energy efficiency and “lose” pounds of carbon dioxide by making household and lifestyle changes in areas such as waste recycling, use of hot water, home heating and cooling, and personal vehicles. Each LoCaL team meets 3 or 4 times to monitor progress and for mutual support. Let’s help to make Carlisle a livable community by saving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while at the same time building stronger community ties. Please join us on May 29 to learn more about Low Carbon Living.

Bob Luoma

Palmer Way

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito